“A street in the Cuban capital, Havana, is home to 12 sets of twins, ranging from toddlers to senior citizens. Some say it could be something in the water. Others point to a tree with mystical significance for locals. And maybe it’s just chance.
Scientists say a variety of factors play into twin births, such as race, the mother’s age and diet. Western Africa, from where many Afro-Cubans can trace their ancestry, has significantly elevated rates of twinning. Meanwhile statisticians caution against the human tendency to seek patterns of serendipity in a random world.
“Something could definitely be there, it could be a combination of various factors”, Andrew Gelman, a statistics professor at Columbia University, said via email. “In addition, opportunistic counting can make a small and natural pattern appear larger”. For example focusing on these two blocks without considering other surrounding ones, he added, “puts the spotlight on a small subset”.
While there’s been no scholarly study of the twins on 68-A Street, they nonetheless consider themselves part of a special community. Some look to faith for an explanation. “There are neighbors who are religious. Many say it’s the Siguaraya tree, which people ask for things and is in one of the homes”, Fe Fernandez said. “The people believe in it strongly”. Leafy and embellished with delicate white blossoms, the Siguaraya is considered sacred in the syncretic Afro-Cuban Santeria faith and is associated with a powerful “orisha”, or spirit.
Others, like Mercedes Montero, mother of 21-year-old Xavier and Lorena, chalk it up to the luck of the draw. “It’s a very big coincidence”, Montero said, “one of those strange things in life”. – Andrea Rodriguez via Associated Press
In this September 23, 2013 photo, from left to right, nine-year-old twins Camila and Carla Rodriguez, and 18-year-old twins Kamar and Sahar Youssef holding six-year-old twins Asley and Aslen Velazquez, pose for portraits along their street where a poster of Fidel Castro hangs in Havana, Cuba. The twins are just some of the 12 sets of twins living along two consecutive blocks in western Havana. (Photo by Ramon Espinosa/AP Photo) Continue reading »